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London’s 15 Best New Hotels

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PHOTO: Courtesy of The Laslett

For the fifth time in seven years, London has been named the most popular city for international visitors. According to MasterCard’s Global Destination Cities Index, the British capital is expected to end the year with 18.82 million overnight visitors, beating out Bangkok, Paris, Dubai, and Istanbul. It’s a good thing, then, that London’s hotel scene is hotter than ever, with a dizzying number of new properties opening every year to accommodate the ever-growing tourist numbers. There are still several highly anticipated openings later this year—The Old Street Courthouse Hotel, The Tobacco Dock Hotel, and citizenM Tower of London among them—but our list includes the best of the bunch that have opened since fall 2013. With private butler services, eye-popping décor, bars with dramatic views, and cutting-edge technology, these are London’s best new hotels.

By Michael Alan Connelly

PHOTO: Courtesy of The Hoxton Holborn

The Hoxton Holborn

The Hoxton, born in Shoreditch in 2006, has brought its brand of sophisticated cool to the relatively quiet environs of Holborn, not far from the British Museum. Opened in September 2014, the Hoxton Holborn houses 174 rooms in an unglamorous-looking five-story building that was formerly a BT office block. Inside, however, there’s a handsome lobby that’s bustling no matter what time of day, stylishly distressed vintage furniture throughout the hotel, and smartly appointed guestrooms with wallpaper designed by East London artist Toby Triumph.

There are four room options—Shoebox, Snug, Cozy, and Roomy—yet aside from size they all feature the same plush beds, sleek bathrooms, and winning décor, not to mention free Wi-Fi and a breakfast bag that arrives at your door at the time of your choosing. The property is also home to Hubbard & Bell, Chicken Shop, and Holborn Grind, all of which have become local favorites. The Holborn location was just the beginning of an expansion plan, with an Amsterdam property set to open in July and outposts in Paris and New York City scheduled to follow in 2016.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s London Travel Guide

PHOTO: Andrew Meredith

Ace Hotel London Shoreditch

As if to cement gritty East London’s status as the epicenter of cool, the Ace Hotel London Shoreditch opened its doors here in September 2013, making it the American brand’s first foray into Europe. Like many of its Shoreditch neighbors, the Ace has taken a setting that was once dreary—in this case, a hulking Crowne Plaza—and transformed it into one that is extremely desirable. As with other Ace properties, the lobby here is just as much for the locals as it for hotel guests, if not more so; in addition to a communal working space, the lobby houses a bar, coffee shop, florist, gallery, restaurant, and a front desk that doubles as a gift shop.

Upstairs, seven types of rooms and suites—there are 258 guestrooms in total—feature minimalist design schemes, patchwork quilts designed by French brand APC, and long, built-in benches that invite lounging. Vintage-looking Revo satellite radios, wall murals inspired by street art, and guitars and turntables are other standout aesthetic touches. The somewhat industrial feel may not appeal to all travelers, but if it’s scene you’re after, the Ace can’t be topped.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s London Travel Guide

PHOTO: Courtesy of Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London

Shangri-LaHotel, at The Shard

South of the Thames, Shangri-La Hotel, at The Shard occupies floors 34–52 of the Renzo Piano–designed skyscraper and impresses all guests with its jaw-dropping views of the city. This is London’s first high-rise hotel, the tallest in Western Europe, and home to the city’s highest cocktail bar and infinity pool. This is a luxury property, no doubt, with prices to match, but all rooms feature elegantly understated décor, Asian influences, large marble bathrooms with heated floors, and, of course, that view.

With regards to which of the four room types to choose (there are also six suites), the Iconic City View Room offers the best vistas of the city, and you’ll be able to spot just about any landmark you can think of with the binoculars provided to you at check-in. It should be noted that an early design flaw that inadvertently allowed guests to see into other rooms has been corrected, and staying here is still a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s London Travel Guide

PHOTO: Courtesy of The Lanesborough

The Lanesborough

Though it doesn’t technically open to the public until July 1, there’s no doubt The Lanesborough will be a stunner. Having closed in late 2013, this iconic Knightsbridge property will reopen as part of the prestigious Oetker Collection, which also operates Le Bristol in Paris and Eden Rock in St. Barts, among others. Housing ninety-three rooms and suites that have been thoroughly restored to their original Georgian splendor by designer Alberto Pinto, the hotel will be the only one in London to offer its pampered guests twenty-four-hour butler service. In addition to a spa, The Lanesborough is also home to two bars, a cigar lounge, and Apsleys, a grand dining space where you can enjoy the hotel’s award-winning tea service every afternoon.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s London Travel Guide

PHOTO: Courtesy of Ham Yard Hotel

Ham Yard Hotel

Tucked away in always-bustling Soho, Ham Yard Hotel offers something of a quiet retreat from busy city streets. Ham Yard Village, a tree-filled courtyard just outside the hotel, is home to independent boutiques, a restaurant, and a theater that are all hidden away from the crowds of nearby Piccadilly Circus. Because this is a new build, all ninety-one rooms are huge (by London standards, anyway), with soundproof, floor-to-ceiling windows that let in lots of light.

The décor is playful, not pretentious, and you’ll find bursts of color anywhere you look. The property is also home to a lobby restaurant, cocktail bar, full-service spa, well-equipped gym, and a subterranean ’50s-style bowling alley that was imported from Texas. Best of all is the rooftop terrace, where there’s a blooming garden and great views of the skyline.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s London Travel Guide

PHOTO: Andreas von Einsiedel

The Zetter Townhouse Marylebone

Known for its eclectic interiors and cool cocktail programs, the Zetter Group has brought its signature flair to a six-story, double-wide Georgian townhouse. In the posh environs of Marylebone, the just-opened Zetter Townhouse offers twenty-one guestrooms, two suites, and one spectacular rooftop apartment.

While the sister property in Clerkenwell was designed as the home of “Zetter’s great aunt Wilhelmina,” the Marylebone house is the residence of “wicked uncle Semour.” The namesake cocktail lounge, Seymour’s Parlour, is done up in the style of a Georgian drawing room and features menus from renowned French chef Bruno Loubet and drinks designed by Tony Conigliaro. Each bedroom has been individually decorated with antique furniture and curios from “Uncle Seymour’s days as a loveable rogue and gambler.”

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s London Travel Guide

PHOTO: Courtesy of The Laslett

The Laslett

Proving a welcome addition to Notting Hill’s lacking boutique hotel scene, The Laslett occupies five Victorian mansions on Pembridge Gardens and houses fifty-one bedrooms and suites designed to look like a “stylish friend’s townhouse.” Interiors feature modern furniture, locally sourced antiques, and contemporary artwork, aiming to refelect the neighborhood’s rich cultural heritage. The ground floor aims to be a local hangout more than a hotel lobby, with a coffee shop, library, bar, and gallery featuring The Laslett’s collaborations with designers and artists. Celebrated chef Sally Clarke, whose dishes have heretofore only been available in her eponymous restaurant, oversees the food program.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s London Travel Guide

PHOTO: Richard Booth

The Hospital Club

For the artsy set, The Hospital Club offers fifteen visually striking bedrooms near Soho and Covent Garden. Housed in an eighteenth-century hospital building, the property opened in January as a private members’ club for local creative and media types, but the bedrooms are open to the public. Outfitted by Russell Sage Studios, each room features bold uses of leather, velvet, wood, and stained glass, in addition to original artwork made by on the club’s members. Other highlights include rain showers, REN amenities, Roberts radios, and cocktail trolley service. Guests staying at The Hospital Club have full access to all of its facilities, including the on-site restaurant, café, exhibition gallery, and live performance space.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s London Travel Guide

PHOTO: Tim Clinch

Chiltern Firehouse

Hip hotelier André Balazs opened Chiltern Firehouse last year, and it immediately became a fixture on the scene for the see-and-be-seen crowd, thanks to its in-house restaurant helmed by Michelin–starred chef Nuno Mendes. Occupying a former fire station built in 1889, the hotel offers twenty-six elegantly restored bedrooms and suites, each one featuring one or more fireplaces. The rooms are quite generously sized by London standards—the Classic Room has a minimum of 250 square feet—and each guest is looked after by a personal concierge who provides customized services. Even though this may not be the newest property in Marylebone, it remains the hottest.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s London Travel Guide

PHOTO: Nic Gaunt and Rebecca Gaunt

Dorsett Shepherds Bush

Opened in 2014, Dorsett Shepherds Bush occupies a landmarked building that originally opened in the 1920s as a movie theater. Unoccupied since 2001, the structure underwent a complete rebuild before reopening, with only the red-brick façade of the original building remaining intact—and even that’s now covered by a tinted-glass exterior, giving the property a contemporary look.

Inside, its 317 rooms are tastefully decorated in British style and Chinese influences, with marble bathrooms to boot. Located a couple of miles west of Kensington Palace, the location might seem off-putting for anyone who wants to stay in central London. But there’s plenty to see and do in Shepherds Bush, and the nearest Tube station is less than ten minutes away.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s London Travel Guide

PHOTO: Michael Sinclair

Artist Residence London

Tucked between Chelsea and Belgravia, Artist Residence London is home to ten “rustic-luxe” rooms and suites in Pimlico Village. Having opened successful hotels in Brighton and Penzance, owners Justin Salisbury and Charlotte Newey opened a low-key property that features lots of exposed brick and pieces from local antique shops. Each room is individually styled, but all are charming and feature subway-tile bathrooms. The ground-floor restaurant, 64 Degrees, overlooks a lovely garden, and the basement space doubles as a daytime café and evening cocktail lounge.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s London Travel Guide

PHOTO: Niall Clutton

Mondrian London

Originally intended to be a luxury hotel when it opened in the 1970s, the Sea Containers House did not quite fulfill its purpose until it reopened last September as the Mondrian London, the brand’s first property outside the U.S. Bringing glamour to the South Bank, the hotel’s irresistibly chic look takes its design cues from 1920s cruise ships; the copper-clad wall in the lobby evokes the hull of a ship. Most of the 359 rooms and suites come with spectacular views of the Thames and the city. Also on site, Dandelyan is a bar clad in green marble overlooking the river, while rooftop bar Rumpus Room features panoramic views of London that can be enjoyed year-round.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s London Travel Guide

PHOTO: Courtesy of The Beaumont; Photo by Nick Ingram

The Beaumont

Restaurateurs Jeremy King and Chris Corbin (The Wolseley, The Ivy, Le Caprice) are behind The Beaumont, which opened last fall in a handsome 1920s Art Deco building originally used as a garage in Mayfair. Matching the building’s façade, the interiors evoke pre-war elegance, with vintage art and photography, glossy rosewoods, and bronze mirrors.

The five-star property houses fifty rooms, thirteen studios, and ten suites, one of which is a presidential suite that can be expanded to occupy the entire fifth floor. In addition to the throwback drinking and dining spaces, there is an “inhabitable sculpture” titled ROOM, created by artist Antony Gormley. The sculpture serves both as a unique one-bedroom suite and an architectural extension of the hotel.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s London Travel Guide

PHOTO: Courtesy of M by Montcalm

M by Montcalm Shoreditch London Tech City

The rejuvenation of East London continues apace, with M by Montcalm opening earlier this year in a futuristic-looking tower on City Road. The twenty-three-story tower fuses large-scale art, sculpture, and architecture, including a fifteen-story work by artist Bruce McLean. Inside, 269 high-tech rooms and suites come with complimentary Wi-Fi, smartphone docks, and plasma screens that double as mirrors. The property also has an attractive pool and spa, plus two bars and restaurants, one of which is overseen by a Michelin–starred chef.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s London Travel Guide

PHOTO: Tom Sullam Photography

Z Shoreditch

Having previously focused its efforts on central London, boutique-budget brand The Z Hotels opened its fourth London property, Z Shoreditch, earlier this year in one of the city’s hippest neighborhoods. Housed in a former office building, the hotel has 107 rooms that are compact but comfortably furnished, with free Wi-Fi, 48-inch LED high-definition TVs, and organic-fiber beds. Take note that some rooms are “inside rooms,” meaning they have no windows, but with prices starting at £49, that’s a drawback that’s worth considering for travelers who don’t intend to spend much time at the hotel, especially considering its proximity to some of London’s most exciting shopping, drinking, and dining spots.

PLAN YOUR TRIP: Visit Fodor’s London Travel Guide

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Visit to London

London’s 15 Best Pubs

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PHOTO: Courtesy of The Spaniards Inn

Depending on how you define London’s boundaries, there are believed to be as many as 7,000 pubs in the sprawling metropolis. That’s a whole lot of places to get a proper pint, so we’ve selected 15 of our favorite spots. With so many pubs to choose from, we couldn’t include every gem on our list, so we’ve focused on standouts with a timeless atmosphere rather than trendy gastropubs and craft-beer bars. From Hampstead to Wimbledon, here are the 15 best pubs in London.

by Abbey Chase

PHOTO: Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese / rebuilt 1667 by George Rex Attribution-ShareAlikeLicense

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

WHERE: Blackfriars

You can’t turn around in London without bumping into a centuries-old pub, but Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese has a certain well-worn patina that not many can match. A pub has stood on the spot since 1538 (though it required substantial rebuilding after the Great Fire of London in 1666) and the vaulted cellars below date back to the 13th century. Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese has become a city landmark, but hasn’t lost any of its charm. There’s a list of every English monarch who has ruled since 1667 beside the door (Charles II was on the throne at the time) and a host of illustrious writers is said to have frequented this London institution at one point or another. Keep in mind that there is more than one pub with the “Cheshire Cheese” moniker, so be sure to visit the original at 145 Fleet Street.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Lamb & Flag

Lamb & Flag

WHERE: Covent Garden

Tucked in a back alley, Lamb & Flag is the kind of place you’ll find only if you’re already looking for it. Despite its proximity to the crowded, though still charming, Covent Garden, this pub is refreshingly kitsch-free and has stood on the same site since 1772, and counted Charles Dickens as one of its regulars. You’ll likely have to politely shove your way to the bar, but the centuries-old wall hangings, worn wooden bar, and authentic charm make Lamb & Flag well worth a visit.

PHOTO: Courtesy of The Spaniards Inn

The Spaniards Inn

WHERE: Hampstead

If you’re staying in central London, the trek to this Hampstead pub can feel like quite a journey, but it doesn’t get much more atmospheric than this. Originally built as a tollbooth at the entrance to the Bishop of London’s estate, The Spaniards Inn is awash in dark oak paneling, lit by a seemingly dangerous open fire in one corner. The pub also has a long literary history; the wooden bench outside proudly declares “Keats enjoyed many an Ale here,” and Spaniards is mentioned in both Dracula and The Pickwick Papers. In the winter, you’ll find a steaming cauldron of mulled wine behind the bar and during the warmer months, enjoy the exceptional cheese board in the garden.

PHOTO: Churchill Arms, Kensington, W8 by Ewan MunroAttribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

The Churchill Arms

WHERE: Notting Hill

Of all the pubs in London, The Churchill Arms may have the most distinctive look. Coming down Kensington Church Street, you’ll be able to spot this Notting Hill institution from several blocks away with its floral-covered façade and regal, tiered structure. Once inside, be careful not to knock over any of the hundreds of knickknacks (and a striking amount of Winston Churchill memorabilia) hanging from the walls and ceiling. Ironically, the pub named after the great British leader is in fact an Irish establishment and to add more confusion to the mix, The Churchill Arms houses an unusually good Thai restaurant in the back.

PHOTO: © Patricia Hofmeester | Dreamstime.com

The George Inn

WHERE: Southwark

A map of London from circa 1543 indicates that the “Gorge” stood on the spot where The George Inn stands today, and though the pub was rebuilt after the London fire, it traces its roots back to medieval times. Now owned by the National Trust, The George Inn continues to serve beer and traditional English fare to Londoners as it has done for hundreds of years in its Southbank location, not three blocks from The Shard, the city’s newest landmark. The final remaining galleried coaching inn in the London, the pub boasts two spacious interior rooms in addition to the Oktoberfest-style lines of picnic tables in the courtyard.

PHOTO: Berni Vent

The Mayflower

WHERE: Rotherhithe

Another of London’s oldest pubs, The Mayflower dates back to 1620 and, not coincidentally, was the site from which the ship of the same name set sail for New England in July of that year (the pub was renamed when it was substantially remodeled in the 1700s). The upstairs room offers a more upscale dining experience, and the downstairs bar and deck overlooking the river make for the perfect drinking environs. If you’re looking for the cheapest pint in the city, you won’t find it here, but the unique atmosphere and great location along the Thames make the price worth it.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Ye Olde Mitre

Ye Olde Mitre

WHERE: Farringdon

Even when sober, finding Ye Olde Mitre can be a bit of a challenge, hidden down a narrow passageway on Ely Court off Holborn. The tavern is wedged between St. Etheldreda’s Church (one of the oldest Catholic churches in England) and Hatton Garden, and has become famous for the cherry tree that stands out front, which Queen Elizabeth I is said to have danced around. Spilling outside the pub’s doors is almost preferable here, as Ye Olde Mitre has the quiet alleyway to itself and has strung mini English flags overhead. Beer steins and pitchers hung on the ceiling give the place a quaint, cluttered feel, and bargoers hoping to find some original fare will be pleased with the tapas-inspired menu.

PHOTO: Nag’s Head, Belgravia, SWI by Ewan MunroAttribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License

The Nags Head

WHERE: Belgravia

There are pubs with authentic, old-school charm and then there’s The Nags Head (53 Kinnerton Street). The no-cellphones policy is strictly enforced, you’ll be firmly asked to hang up your coat upon entering, and you won’t find a TV on the premise, though penny arcade games are dotted around the room. Kevin Moran is practically a caricature of a traditional pub owner and the locals who frequent The Nags Head are equally eccentric. The prices are a bit steep, but you’ll be paying for the atmosphere more than the beer.

PHOTO: Courtesy of The Flask

The Flask

WHERE: Hampstead

The Flask can be something of a mind-bender, no matter how much or how little you’ve had to drink; with two separate entrances and two bars that have no interior connection, finding your way around this historic space can be a bit of a challenge. Originally built with a separate public bar and saloon bar (the former the more modest option), The Flask has maintained its original charm with the addition of a more modern dining room in the back. A perfect blending of the old with the new makes this Hampstead spot (with a surprisingly long wine list) an inviting spot to imbibe, situated along the impossibly quaint Flask Walk a block from the Hampstead Tube station.

PHOTO: Courtesy of The Antelope

The Antelope

WHERE: Belgravia

Though found near Sloane Square, one of the most expensive parts of an already pricey city, The Antelope offers up a quintessential English pub atmosphere without emptying your pockets. To boot, the food is exceptional for a pub and the wood-paneled exterior looks particularly inviting on the otherwise quiet, residential street. Looking for something more sophisticated? Head upstairs to the Eaton Room, outfitted with red curtains, stylishly mismatched wooden chairs, and mint-colored paneled walls.

PHOTO: Courtesy of The White Hart

The White Hart

WHERE: Waterloo

There are a number of pubs in London that bear this name, but when looking for the best neighborhood vibe and a quintessential Sunday roast, head to The White Hart near Waterloo station. Tucked away on a quiet neighborhood street in a refreshingly tourist-free Southbank area, this single-room pub can get crowded with the after-work set, but the endlessly cheery group of locals will more than make up for the lack of seating. The White Hart is tough to beat on a Sunday afternoon; the excellent roast, pile of board games and newspapers, and delicious Bloody Marys make for the ultimate relaxed end to the weekend.

PHOTO: Ben Carpenter Photography

The Dog & Fox

WHERE: Wimbledon

Just 15 minutes by train from Waterloo station, Wimbledon feels miles from central London with its quiet High Street and wooded Wimbledon Common, where horseback riders, casual golfers, and wellie-clad dog-walkers all lend the park an almost stereotypical English vibe. Fitting of the small-town atmosphere, The Dog & Fox does double-duty as a pub and hotel, not a five-minute walk from the Common. In addition to the usual line-up of Young’s beer, The Dog & Fox also features an extensive cocktail list, best enjoyed on the outdoor patio on a sunny day.

PHOTO: Courtesy of Princess Victoria Kensington

Princess Victoria Kensington

WHERE: Kensington

While not the most traditional spot on this list, the Princess Victoria Kensington brings a touch of whimsy to the usual pub experience. The neon sign behind the bar lends this pub a slightly dive-y feel, but the small space is still very cozy, without feeling cramped. Head upstairs for a respite from the noisy downstairs bar, and don’t leave without ordering the shockingly good fresh warm bread. Cocktail lovers in particularly will love this spot; the £8 drinks are a ridiculously good deal in London, let alone in the tony Kensington neighborhood.

PHOTO: Courtesy of The Victoria

The Victoria

WHERE: Paddington

This area north of Hyde Park isn’t the busiest corner of the city, which is part of what makes The Victoria so appealing. The menu features standard pub fair, but the food is a cut above what you’ll normally find at the average London drinking hole. The cozy interior is exactly what you’d hope to find in an English pub, with intricate woodwork, antique-y light fixtures, and a fireplace surrounded by well-worn armchairs. Upstairs features a beautiful library, perfect for a more quiet bite.

PHOTO: Courtesy of The Crown & Anchor

The Crown & Anchor

WHERE: Brixton

Managing to maintain its traditional English vibe while offering a unique assortment of craft ales, The Crown & Anchor sees tweed suits and ironically clad hipsters come together under one roof. Beer is the star of the show here, but this South London pub doesn’t lack in atmosphere either, with an exposed brick wall along one side and a wall of French windows along the other, with quirky minimalist light fixtures hung between the two.

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Hotel Opening: London’s Shangri-La Hotel, at the Shard

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The Shangri-La Hotel, at The Shard, which opened in May, boasts floor-to-ceiling windows, the city’s highest cocktail bar and infinity pool, and unrivalled views of the London skyline from 1,016 feet above the South Bank of the Thames. Occupying floors 34 to 52 of the Renzo Piano-designed skyscraper, the Shangri-La is London’s first high-rise hotel, and the tallest in Western Europe. Its location, just behind City Hall, puts it within walking distance of Borough Market, Shakespeare’s Globe, Southbank Centre, and the Tower of London.

Visitors enter the hotel through a ground-floor lobby on St. Thomas Street, adjacent to the London Bridge tube station, where they’re welcomed by a small seating area and, off to the left, a self-dubbed “artisan deli” called LÁNG. Modelesque women draped in Asian silks check you in, hand you a cold towel, and introduce you to a porter who’ll whisk you and your luggage to your room by way of one of two express elevators that exit on the 35th floor. Here, you’ll change to a key-card-only access elevator up to the guestrooms, where your porter will acquaint you with your room, including automated climate control and blinds, a plush kimono, and a pair of binoculars for enjoying the view.

Rates: Guestrooms and suites (180 rooms are currently open, with another 22 opening by 2015) are priced by view. Of the guestrooms, the least expensive, at $799 during high season (Superior Shard Room), affords south-facing views; the most expensive, $1,050 (Iconic City View Room), gives you access to triple-aspect, 180-degree views of London’s key landmarks. Suites start at $2,690.

Rooms:  All of the hotel’s guestrooms have custom beds adorned with Frette linens, free WiFi, flat-screen TVss, a Nespresso machine, and a complimentary pot of Chinese welcome tea. The marble bathrooms, replete with Acqua Di Parma toiletries, have heated floors, a TV in the mirror, and Toto Washlet toilets. With neutral-colored furniture, unremarkable wall art, and space-age swirly carpets, the décor is typical for the Hong Kong-based Shangri-La group; understated, almost bland. However, it only takes a single, outward glance to understand why: Every guestroom in the hotel has jaw-dropping views of London and beyond.

In an Iconic City View Room—definitely the one to book—this humbling panorama stretches from Buckingham Palace in the west to Greenwich’s Royal Observatory in the east, and everything in between, including the full trace of the Thames, St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Houses of Parliament, and bridges too numerous to count. To stay in a room with a view like this is a one-of-a-kind experience in London. (The Shard’s viewing deck doesn’t even come close.)

Drinks & Dining: LÁNG, on the ground floor, serves pastries, salads, and sandwiches, while TĪNG on the 35th floor offers a Modern British-meets-Asian menu featuring seasonal ingredients from nearby Borough Market. TĪNG’s lounge serves London’s highest afternoon tea; choose between classic English or Asian-inspired preparations. The 52nd-floor Champagne and cocktail bar, GŎNG, is the perfect spot for sundowners or late-night drinks from the creative craft cocktail list.

Health & Fitness: There is a 24-hour fitness center on level 52 as well as an infinity swimming pool with special children’s swimming hours. Spa treatments can be arranged in your room or in one of the spa residences.

Pros: Matchless views; superb service; exceptional restaurants and cocktail bar; nifty, high-tech bells and whistles in guestrooms.

Cons: A “currently being worked on” design flaw caused by glass wings that protrude from the corners of the building allows guests, with a turn of the head, to see into their neighbor’s room at night; décor may feel cold to some; restaurant, cocktail bar (and therefore elevators) often swell with hotel guests and non-hotel guests alike due to the popularity of the view.

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15 Must-See Literary Sights in London

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PHOTO: © Alexandre Fagundes De Fagundes | Dreamstime.com

Few countries can lay claim to as many great writers as England, home to some of history’s most renowned scribes. Strolling around the capital, be sure to look for the blue plaques marking where people of importance, both literary and otherwise, have lived and worked throughout history, but for a more dedicated look at the city’s literary history, read on. From pubs to museums to libraries, here are 15 can’t-miss spots for literature lovers touring London.

by Abbey Chase

PHOTO: Alistair Scott/Shutterstock

The British Library

What better place to begin a literary tour of London than at a library? Originally part of the British Museum, the Library moved to its current location on Euston Road in 1998, transferring its collection to the 1.2-million-square-foot space. With more than 150 million items in its collection, including manuscripts that date back 4,000 years, the British Library is the second largest library in the world, behind the Library of Congress. Literature fans should make a beeline for the Sir John Ritblat Gallery, just to the right of the main entrance, to view the Library’s stunning archival collection, which includes the Magna Carta, a Gutenberg Bible, original copies of Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, Jane Eyre, and Shakespeare’s First Folio, and select works from Jane Austen to the Beatles.

PHOTO: (c) Patricia Hofmeester | Dreamstime.com

The George Inn

This Southwark pub dates back some 400 years, though it was virtually destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666, and stands as the last remaining galleried coaching in in London. Charles Dickens was a frequent visitor of The George Inn, and he even mentioned it in Little Dorrit (in chapter XXII). Shakespeare is also rumored to have frequented this pub, though this is largely speculation due to its proximity to the Globe. The George is now owned by the National Trust to maintain the pub’s nostalgia-inducing, literary-steeped atmosphere.

PHOTO: © Liubou Tsiarletskaya | Dreamstime.com

The Sherlock Holmes Museum

Though technically located between 237 and 241 Baker Street, The Sherlock Holmes Museum proudly declares its address as 221b Baker Street in honor of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous detective. This homage to one of literature’s most famous sleuths can be found just off the southwest corner of Regent’s Park, and fans of all things Holmes will enjoy the small museum filled with period exhibits, Holmes memorabilia, and a mock-up of the detective’s study looking onto the street. Even if you decide to opt out of the museum tour ($16), this spot is still worth a visit for the outstanding gift shop, in-character staff, and Baker Street tube station, covered in Holmes’ silhouettes.

PHOTO: © Alexandre Fagundes De Fagundes | Dreamstime.com

Shakespeare’s Globe

In a city full of landmarks, the Globe Theatre is one of London’s most iconic spots. While the modern reconstruction is not even 20 years old, the recreation of the 1599 theatre has been painstakingly modeled after the original space that Lord Chamberlain’s Men called home. The original Globe caught fire in 1613 during a performance of Henry VIII and was rebuilt the following year, before the Puritans shuttered it in 1642. For a true Shakespearean experience today, view a performance from the pit, the standing-room space directly in front of the stage; this season, the Globe is staging Antony and Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, King Lear, and The Comedy of Errors, as well as other non-Shakespeare productions. Alternatively, take a tour of the theatre.

PHOTO: © Baspohto | Dreamstime.com

Keats House

John Keats lived in this house on the edge of Hampstead Heath with his friend Charles Brown for almost two years, where he is said to have written “Ode to a Nightingale.” Keats moved to Italy in 1820 as his tuberculosis deteriorated, leaving his fiancée Fanny Brawne in England, and the house was inhabited by various London celebrities throughout the rest of the 19th century. Today, the Keats Museum is housed in the adjacent coach house and showcases a collection of Keats’ letters, the engagement ring Keats gave Brawne, and a copy of the poet’s death mask. The house also hosts a variety of literary events, as well as guided walks around the neighborhood.

PHOTO: © Roland Nagy | Dreamstime.com

Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey

The list of famous people interred in Westminster Abbey is lengthy, to put it mildly, and Poets’ Corner in the South Transept serves as a kind of literary hall of fame. Geoffrey Chaucer’s tomb was placed here in 1556 as a kind of happy accident (he was recognized for his service as Clerk of Works, not as an author) that created Poets’ Corner, which has since served as a memorial to Britain’s greatest cultural contributors. Henry Francis Clay, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Laurence Olivier, Edmund Spenser, and Alfred Tennyson are all interred here, and there are also several monuments commemorating famous writers whose remains are elsewhere, most notably Shakespeare, who is buried in Stratford-upon-Avon.

PHOTO: Jack1956, via Wikimedia Commons [Public domain]

Charles Dickens Museum

Like Keats and his Hampstead residence, Dickens only lived in this house on Doughty Street for two years, but as the site where he penned Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickelby, this spot in Holborn is worth visiting. When plans to demolish the house were drawn up in 1923, the Dickens Fellowship took over the site and turned it into a museum showcasing a collection of Dickens’ memorabilia, including paintings, manuscripts, furniture, and other items that belonged to the author. You can tour the museum at your own pace or sign up for one of the Costumed Tours on the third Saturday of every month, in which a period-clad Dickens’ housemaid gives you a tour of the residence.

PHOTO: Abbey Chase

Platform 9 ¾, King’s Cross Station

For something with a little more whimsy, take the Tube to the bustling King’s Cross Station and look for the famous platform to board the Hogwarts Express. Follow signs for platform 9 and you’ll see the trolley disappearing into the wall off to the side (there is a roped queue and an attendant there almost all the time, so it will be hard to miss). After you take a picture with a Hogwarts scarf of your choice, head to the gift shop around the corner to stock up on Harry Potter souvenirs and trinkets.

PHOTO: Ewan Munro, via Wikimedia Commons [Public domain]

Fitzroy Tavern

A pub so famous it gave the London neighborhood its name (Fitzrovia), the Fitzroy Tavern (16 Charlotte Street) was once a favorite hangout of George Orwell, George Bernard Shaw, and Richard Attenborough. Legend has it that Welsh poet Dylan Thomas used to give out poetry written on beer mats to any woman who asked while drinking here. Pictures on the walls honor past regulars at the Fitzroy and while the crowd today is less literary than during the mid-20th century, the locals still lend this pub an authentic vibe.

PHOTO: © Chris Dorney | Dreamstime.com

Highgate Cemetery

This 37-acre cemetery in London was created in 1839 as one of the “Magnificent Seven” cemeteries built to alleviate the burden on cemeteries within the city, and Highgate became one of the most sought-after plots in Victorian London. Amidst the lavish catacombs, chapels, and Egyptian-style tombs, you can view the graves of Karl Marx, Henry Gray (author of Gray’s Anatomy), and George Elliot, as well as many of Charles Dickens’ family members and several prominent English actors. The cemetery has been referenced in several modern films, TV shows, and novels, and gained prominence in the 1970s due to rumored supernatural activity on the premises. Note that access to the West Cemetery is only allowed on an accompanied tour.

The Old Curiosity Shop

Built from the recycled wood of old ships, The Old Curiosity Shop (13-14 Portsmouth Street) is one of a select group of places in London that can say it survived both the Great Fire of 1666 and aerial bombing during World War II. The 16th-century shop can still be found near the London School of Economics and while the relationship between this particular store and Dickens’ The Old Curiosity Shop is unclear, the London landmark is considered by many to be the inspiration for the novel with its tilting ceilings, wobbly floorboards, and creaking staircase. Dickens lived in the Bloomsbury area near this shop and is said to have visited on multiple occasions. Stop in for a bit of history or to pick up a pair of shoes.

PHOTO: Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese / rebuilt 1667 by George Rex Attribution-ShareAlikeLicense

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

With a list long list of illustrious literary regulars, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese (145 Fleet Street) is a must-see for any literature fan passing through the city. Dr. Samuel Johnson moved next door to the pub in 1748 (though there is, in fact, no evidence of him ever visiting), but Mark Twain, Alfred Tennyson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, William Makepeace Thackerary, G.K. Chesterton, W.B. Yeats, Voltaire, James Boswell, and Ben Jonson are all said to have passed through at one point, if not attended regularly; Dickens’ even alluded to it in A Tale of Two Cities. This rickety Fleet Street pub is still a great place to grab a pint and relax in the historic atmosphere.

PHOTO: Schlaier, via Wikimedia Commons [Public domain]

Bloomsbury

A neighborhood steeped in literary history, Bloomsbury is an easy place to while away an afternoon exploring its quiet streets. The Bloomsbury Square garden was a meeting place for writers during the 1920s and ’30s known as the Bloomsbury Group, a highly influential group of writers that counted Virginia Woolf, John Maynard Keynes, and E.M. Forster as members. The British Museum, the former home of the British Library, is nearby, and W.B. Yeats, Charles Dickens, T.S. Eliot, and Bram Stoker all lived in the area at one point. Keep an eye out for the blue plaques marking important historical spots as you stroll around the neighborhood, or take a guided literary walking tour of Bloomsbury.

PHOTO: Elliot Brown, via Wikimedia Commons [Public domain]

Dr. Johnson’s House

Samuel Johnson is perhaps most famous for his publication of A Dictionary of the English Language in 1755, a watershed moment in the history of the English language, and fans of the famous lexicographer and writer can visit his house not 500 feet from Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. Johnson lived at this house on 17 Gough Square for 11 years, during which time he compiled his Dictionary, and today visitors can view first printings of Johnson’s work and his personal pink tea set. Famous for his sociable disposition, Johnson was known for being a great host and many famous writers passed through here; some of their memorabilia is on display in the house today.

PHOTO: Oscar Wilde #1 by Alan Stanton Attribution-ShareAlikeLicense

‘A Conversation With Oscar Wilde’

The Irish poet and playwright moved to England in 1878 and took up residence at 44 Tite Street Chelsea in 1881. Though he died in Paris, Wilde spent much of his life in the English capital and wrote many of his famous works while living there. Fans of Wilde should seek out A Conversation With Oscar Wilde, a sculpture on Adelaide Street northeast of Trafalgar Square. The somewhat abstract sculpture, unveiled in 1998, shows a whimsical Wilde with a quote from Lady Windermere’s Fan inscribed beneath: “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

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